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Phil Oakes, Giving you peace of mind

Compliance. It’s not a pleasant topic but it is one that property managers have to understand. If a child fell from a balcony in a property that you lease, would you be liable? Is safety glass installed in all appropriate locations, are the stairs safe? Landlords and leasing agents can be held liable for leasing unsafe premises.

The law is clear that it is the responsibility of both the Landlord and the Property Manager to ensure that a tenant is provided with a safe property. Cases such as Wu Vs Carter clearly establish that there is a duty of care to the tenant. If a tenant suffers hurt or loss, he or she can, and probably will, seek compensation which is a real concern for Managing Agents.

The numbers of finalised claims against Managing Agents have exploded over the past decade, from only 1 in 2,000 in 2003 every year to now where it is 1 in 10 Agents. If this trend continues, soon we will be discussing how many claims each agency faces every year. This situation needs to be addressed now.

Luckily, Phil Oakes from PropertySafe can help. He says, “Property managers can now breathe easy as we can provide all the protection a Managing Agent needs in relation to safety in rented homes. Our specifically trained and professional inspectors undertake a full safety audit across 16 key safety hazard areas of a property, including the required Legislated Compliance areas and compile that into one easy to read and cost effective Risk Management Report.”

Phil has been in the property inspection business for many years. PropertySafe grew from Diamond Property Inspections, a well-respected nationwide inspection Company that has been successfully operating and growing for 23 years. PropertySafe assesses properties on behalf of Landlords and Property Managers, providing recommendations to maximise the safety of occupants.

PM Advantage manages the property and any maintenance required.

Phil explains, “We inspect properties to ensure they are safe places for your tenants to live in. We’ve studied all the litigious areas, numerous Coroners recommendations and the legislated issues and have developed a specific Report to ensure all issues are identified and examined very carefully. If there are any risks, our comprehensive report identifies them, recommends solutions and gives you something to take away, being action lists and quote documents, allowing you to easily send prepared documents to your Landlords relating to any issues immediately.”

To provide an even more comprehensive risk mitigation system the Company has gone one step further and developed PM Advantage - a cloud-based software package that tracks all activities related to that property, including inspections, maintenance, event logs, quote sheets, reminders and notifications. With PM Advantage, looking after your properties and maintaining compliance becomes a whole lot easier.

Phil says, “PM Advantage is the ultimate maintenance module, it makes the time consuming task of managing the maintenance on a property remarkably quick and simple. All the communication between Landlords, Tenants and Tradespeople are systemised. Tasks that traditionally take in excess of 30 minutes can be done in less than 2 minutes. It will save agencies tens of thousands of dollars each year and significantly reduce the risk exposure for the Business. Quotes are generated and electronically sent to the Landlord allowing them to give instant “one click” feedback and instantaneous authorisation to go ahead to the next stage.”

Nothing falls through the cracks. Phil says, “Our system is designed so that it takes care of all the routine tasks and simply reminds you on what you need to focus on. You could be out having a coffee and a Tenant calls, you can deal with that immediately via the mobility of the system, rather than having to try and remember to do it later.

“If there is a matter that a Landlord decides to fix themselves, PM Advantage records that and also automatically sends reminders to ensure the Landlord has completed the work. The software checks and follows up any issue to ensure that nothing slips through the cracks, plus the event log records every action, thus delivering you essential protection with a comprehensive audit log available anytime. Property Managers have a huge workload and are so busy they cannot do and remember everything, PM Advantage takes away most of the human error risk and delivers a tool that will really help them. We like to think it will be their new best friend.”

As PropertySafe and PM Advantage are connected, Phil says, “Anything identified during a PropertySafe inspection automatically flows into PM Advantage as a task to be looked at, allowing you to decide what you want to do with it.”

So how regularly should a property be inspected? Phil recommends that, “A property should be inspected every 2-3 years, however it should be mandatory when you take on a new property so you are protected.”

If you have PropertySafe and PM Advantage, any changes to compliance are built into the program. Phil says, “Anything that’s a compliance issue is automatically covered, be that smoke alarms, pools, safety switches, blind cords etc., we build it in. So we are a one-stop-shop for safety and compliance. We offset the cost and time wasted in organising numerous experts.”

Landlords and leasing agents can be held liable for leasing unsafe premises.

Also, removing the risk from your property portfolio should also give you an advantage when you come to sell your business. Phil points out, “Purchasers and Financiers will view your rent roll in a more positive perspective knowing they are not buying into a potential time bomb in terms of safety issues and potential claims. We believe this will significantly enhance the value of your rent roll and make it more attractive.”

Would you be liable?

In January 2013, a three-year-old girl fell through a fly screen and out a first-floor window of a house on Sydney’s northern beaches. The toddler crashed into an awning before falling to the ground suffering head injuries. She was placed in an induced coma and airlifted to the Children’s Hospital in Westmead. In August 2013, an eighteen-month old boy, died after being suffocated with a blind cord in Port Stephens. Totally preventable and unnecessary.

For more information please see: www.propertysafe.com.au/compliance, or call 1300 155 888.

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Phil Oakes